Wandering Poet: Just Hair

It is just hair.

Tegil stared out across the lush foliage and sighed. They would reach the city tomorrow, and he was running out of time. The oddly green robe adorning his shoulders was easy to adjust to, but this was a much more difficult thing to do. He repeated the reassurance over and over in his mind, until it nearly became a mantra…but it did nothing to ease his disquiet.

It is just hair.

It really is just hair.

It will grow back.

How much danger was he walking into? That was irrelevant to his mind, in truth. He had grown to like his traveling companions – those he did not know previously – and whatever adventures they would find could do nothing but enrich his life. The left corner of his mouth twitched up in an amused smirk; he had already been kidnapped once…what was one more time, if it came down to it? This was his life to live, and one never learned all there was to learn by staying home.

Yet from the moment he entered into Gondor’s lands, thoughts of his family came to him often. It was to be expected, of course – he loved his family dearly, and it was difficult to not separate from his group of friends to head off to Minas Tirith.

As he watched the sun peek from behind the nearby mountains, Tegil finally admitted to himself that it was mostly guilt which spurred his longing to return to the White City; he had not been able to travel in time to properly attend to his brother’s funeral, and it was a deep sorrow. He frowned as he thought of young Arassiel, bereft of a father so young… It would take resolve of the utmost steel to keep from remaining for her sake.

Upon further reflection, he decided that it was better to remain with the group packing up their horses. Nallo and Tinuvist seemed unconcerned about the idea of being known as whom they were, but there was something in Cirieldis’s demeanor when the group spoke in Morlad that caused unease to settle across his shoulders.

The suggestion that whatever it is they may be doing could somehow be traced back to his family…the thought had never occurred to him. It was, indeed, his own life to live, but not one of his kin deserved to have their lives affected by his actions.

It is just hair. It will grow back.

Black strands danced in the air as Tegil finished wrapping up his sleeping roll and properly stored it. Only hair though it was, still it remained a large part of his identity. His hair had been longer even as a boy and this would be the first time in his life that it would be shorn short.

How lucky my life is, that this is such a dilemma! It is just hair.

Warm light caught the button on his sleeve, blinding him for a moment. Blue-grey eyes instinctively blinked away, and looked eastward. The sun’s rays would be first glowing upon the white stone of Minas Tirith at this exact moment, as well.

There was no doubt in his mind that his beloved mother was already awake and reading a book in the morning dew on the balcony. For years, the other noblewomen told her that she would catch cold from such an insanely flighty practice, but she had thus far proven them wrong. Arassiel would rise shortly and run to find her grandmother, awaiting the morning’s lesson.

If – if – anything were to happen to them because of him, Tegil would never forgive himself. The mere thought of that possibility caused his heart to fill with dread. He would gladly lay down his life to protect them, what little good his prowess in battle would win for them…

…And what was his own life next to hair?

It is just hair.

Shoulders squared, Tegil marched over to the tall elf setting his own gear aright. “Kemendin, if you have time before we set off for the day, I would be appreciative if you could cut my hair to a much shorter length.”


Was this supposed to be so worrisome, even now? The decision was made, so why was his stomach in knots? He took a stabilizing breath and answered the question to which he had no real answer.

“To be honest, I do not know what will be acceptable. It has never been short, and I will be unable to see my hair; I leave its fate entirely to those who can see.”

His eyes involuntarily closed before the blades could slice through years of identity and self-awareness.

It is just hair.

Wandering Poet: Sunsets & Hobbits

Dearest Mother,

I have reached the border of the Shire. The waters of the Baranduin are slow and steady, a great comfort to a weary traveler. Did you know that in this land, they more oft call the river by the name “Brandywine”? It is a peculiar and particularly charming mispronunciation. There is a small settlement of Hobbits (they seem to be amused yet slightly offended at being called “periannath”) in which I stay this evening. They are not quick to trust, but are used to travelers, and my songs and coin were enough to persuade them I mean no harm.

I can barely fit into their tiny houses; therefore I sleep under the stars. It is a reassuring way to rest, watching the constellations move through the sky as I listen to the river’s waters flow nearby. There is something inexplicably soothing about hearing a cricket play its song, or the rustling of long grass in the wind. It helps me recognize that the world does in fact continue to move, heedless of my whims or heartbreak. Logically I have known this all along, but this does not mean that I feel it in my heart yet.

The reflection of the sun against the rippling waters of the Baranduin was bittersweet, even as the Hobbits assured me it would lift my spirits. How could they know the fiery red of the sun and vivid blue of sky yet undarkened, dancing upon water, would remind me of that I wish to forget? Their gesture and kindness were appreciated, regardless.

My candle supply is limited until I find a proper town with traders, and so I must cut this short. The Hobbits assure me my letters will make it through what they call “the post,” which is their courier/letter system. This shall reach you when it reaches you. May you, Father, Thurinon, Merileth, and all their children, fare well. I will find treats for each of you on my travels, particularly Arassiel. Hobbit-sized is what we could consider child-sized; perhaps a writing desk or easel… Ah, my thoughts run away. Fare well, Mother.

Yours,

Dínendir

Wandering Poet: Second Journey

Dearest Mother,

Forgive your son for being short on words, so heavy is his heart. After chancing across some old acquaintances and friends, it has become abundantly clear to me that I am incapable of properly socializing with others at this time. To continue to stay indoors during the warm months is not sustainable, nor do I particularly wish to stay within these walls more than absolutely necessary. I am sure you understand.

I think it best if I travel for a time. A change of scenery, as well as copious amounts of walking, will perhaps help clear my mind. It was a goal of mine to see the home of the Periannath and to walk the green hills of their land. I will do so, as well as continue my journey toward Duillond. I know you and Father have partners in the elven port, including Maluhíl. It is my fervent hope he has not departed yet, for he would be a comfort to see once more.

During my travels, I will write when it is possible. Please send any replies you wish through our family’s connections in Duillond, as that is my final destination. I am unsure if I will return to Bree to live, or if I shall sell the land and move elsewhere.

This is a journey of discovery, much like my former one, yet this time I do not seek glory or to be remembered for my words and deeds. Instead I desire to regain my sense of self. The vibrant and alive colours of Bree-land in the summer do nothing to stir my heart; this is something which must be remedied. Deep in my heart, I know there is magic and wonder and beauty in the world…and I must learn to see it once again.

Wish your wayward son luck, for I believe he shall need it. Despite my somber words, know that I still – and always will – smile with joy as I think upon you, my father, brother, and beloved sister. Give them my sincere love.

I remain yours,

Dínendir

Snapshots: A Summer Sunrise

A long absence due to multiple reasons! I apologize for the silence on my part and all I can promise is an attempt to try harder! If any of you didn’t know, the main reason is because the game I work for, Star Wars: The Old Republic, recently announced our preorders. Things are crazy.

I also admit to having hit something of an epic writer’s block; my brain would not let me come up with anything remotely resembling LotRO stuff for months. Well over 25,000 words of Mass Effect and Dragon Age II fiction later, I think I finally sated the monster that was that epidemic. Here are a few snapshots for you, giving you a little update on where all my little characters are at the moment!

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The sun’s rays gently crept along golden hair, kissing it into a brilliant glow. In time, pear-apple eyes slid open only to immediately squeeze shut again at the light’s intrusion. Rather than sit up, the young woman decided to lie in bed and enjoy the sun’s attentions. She had become quite adept at using her crutch, and she would once she rose – but there was a simple pleasure to be had in luxuriating in the sun like a cat. One she felt like indulging in at the moment.

There was a simple phrase her mother would tell her every morning; a saying she never understood until her recent injury. Don’t be impatient – life gives its gifts one day at a time. She closed her eyes and let her memory dance along the rays and back to Rohan. When she rose, she would take today’s gift of life and make the most of it…but not yet. For now, she reminisced.

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Dexterous fingers gently pulled black hair away from a sweat-slicked forehead. Already it was so hot, but Lempi slept soundly regardless. Tuija reveled in the quiet peace lying next to her sleeping daughter brought. In no time at all, she would awaken and be waddling all over the hall, trying to get into everything. Watching her grow and learn every day was the single most brilliant thing in Tuija’s life.

A small pang of sorrow laced through the serene moment as she remembered yet again that Michael would never see their daughter grow old. Well over a year had passed since he left them, and the pain had grown duller, but it would never completely leave. She could imagine his warm brown eyes crinkling as he twirled Lempi through the air, their laughter mingling loudly. The bittersweet joy of that false memory would be enough to get her through the day.

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She woke up indoors. Seeing a roof over her head instead of the sky peeking through leaves shocked her into bolting straight up. Skyrah stared around the room with wide eyes, looking much more like a frightened deer than an 18 year old woman. She relaxed when her eyes settled upon one of Luned’s props. That’s right, I’m home. Even when not spoken, the word “home” felt bitter to her. It wasn’t really home, but it was full of supportive – if unaware – friends. It would do for now.

Stretching, she rolled around a few times before standing up. Skyrah forgot how restful not sleeping on the ground could be for the body. The wind whistled through the leaves outside their window, eliciting a rare smile from her. It looked to be another beautiful day and for once she could enjoy it. If she couldn’t find herself a real person to love, trying to chase after a phantom, slightly sinister alternative just wasn’t healthy. Today was the start of a new chapter. Time to find Luned for some lessons…

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Deep blue eyes shuttered open, raven hair being shaken out of their view. Tegil scratched his bare chest with a sigh that quickly decided to evolve into a yawn. Another late night working, another piece completed. The changes in his life continued fascinate and elate him. Two years ago, if you had told him exactly where he would be on this very day, he would have laughed merrily and brushed it off. Such odd and fortuitous circumstances that led him to this small house!

He wouldn’t change a thing. Many of his peers back in Minas Tirith would dismiss it as another one of his “flights of fancy” but Tegil had found a new sense of self here in Bree-land. Scholarly pursuits for curiosity’s sake would always be a wonderful adventure for his mind, yet working gave him purpose he found nowhere else. While dwelling on these thoughts would be a lovely way to pass the morning, he sat up and swung his legs over the side. It was time to rise.

The mail he neglected to read last night taunted him from the table next to his bed. Foremost, the letter from his mother was set to the side for a more thorough reading outside. Next was correspondence from a fellow Sindarin scholar in town; the last was a payment. He quickly counted and portioned it. Every time he divided his earnings and placed half into the special hidden box, he couldn’t help but feel a small jolt of pride and excitement. Who knows where he’d be one year from now?

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Streeeeetch. Loriwen’s body pulled and then contracted back into a ball. Another day, another job. She felt a bit queasy…she hoped she wasn’t getting sick. Time to take it easy today. No point in getting dog-sick because she wanted to work as much as she could. Her legs plopped out with two thuds and lifted her from bed, over to the wardrobe.

Her mind drifted as she covered herself with clothing. Planning to have children forced her to take stock of how little carving she’d be able to get done once it happened. She’d been working a lot lately to compensate for it; perhaps too much. The lightheadedness and feeling cold (it was the end of Mede, she should never feel cold) agreed with her assessment. Time to drink some water and go back to bed for the day. You’re supposed to starve being sick, right? She thought so, anyway; never could remember. Hopefully Lori could stave off whatever she managed to saddle herself with – she idly thought that she probably caught it from the kids at the store last week – before it exploded. She didn’t get sick often, but when Loriwen went down, she was down in the worst way.

From the Hearth

I get inspired at 4 am. I don’t know why, but it always seems to happen this way. I’m also feeling the “snippets” style of writing right now! Here is how my characters spent their night: from their hearth.

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The fire flickered as someone stoked it; its benefactor retreated with a sleepy grunt, no doubt to their bunk. Newly invigorated, the flames set shadows dancing across a face faintly contorted with pain. Fitful rest would follow that one this evening.

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Gold and red twined together, their light quavering as quickly as the quill that continued to write in this late hour. It took another quick dip into its ink well before gliding across the paper again. Late or not, the letter would be finished before sleep took him.

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The hearth held no fire; in fact, the window was open – cool air moved the curtains to its own silent symphony. That same gentle breeze wafted across the two who slept: one Lossoth, the other half-blooded. The older stirred with pleasure at the temperature while the younger was merely content.

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Coals smoldered, casting their warm glow throughout the room. The light highlighted two figures, both adrift in their own dreams, sprawled along their bed. Hours earlier, both the fire and couple were ablaze; now, all three had tapered into languorous slumber.

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The fire pit was empty. For the first time in months, it didn’t feel the searing bite of flame. Its usual companion sat in silence, watching the nonexistent fire scintillate and dance in her mind. Hope began to grow as dim as her clothing.

At Rest: A Spring Twilight

It seems like yesterday since my last “At Rest” meme went out, but damn…it was actually a while ago! Started by the talented Laenlis, here’s yet another installment of my favorite device. I’m actually really, really pleased with the way these came out. ^_^

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Every time she shifted, dulled pain shot through her body. This time, it was more than just a slight interrupt to her dream: it woke her up. Long blonde hair, shockingly free of its usual twig-and-leaf decorations, had managed to tangle itself in the makeshift crutch she still insisted on using. It was functional enough for her purposes, so the healers didn’t argue it with her. Damn it all. She reached to begin to free the wood from her tresses. It was going to be another long night.

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As always, the young woman was asleep on the ground. Her head was cushioned by a fragrant pillow, and despite the relative warmth of the evening a handsome brown cloak was her blanket. No fire was needed thanks to the recent thaw; the only light that danced upon her face was moonlight, occasionally streaming through the growing leaves above her. Beneath the cloak, unbeknownst to any but herself, she clutched a note.

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Green blankets shifted, black hair fell in a new pattern. Next to the bed, a candle gave its last flicker. Its owner was negligent, once again, in snuffing it out before he fell asleep. The sudden lack of light caused the bedroom’s sole occupant to stir and mumble something incoherent – possibly not even in Westron. His eyes were closed, but behind them, he dreamed of laughter and family and joy. The black dress stood out in stark contrast against the white stone, causing him to grin widely to his mother. Her bright smile mirrored his own and they shared a brief, private look. She approved.

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Blue-green eyes slowly slid open and looked around the room. A yawn escaped her and she decided to see just how late it was. She stood up, bright hair tumbling to her bare shoulders. Idle thoughts of trimming it skimmed over her mind while she padded over to the window. Her skin glowed silver as she stepped into the shaft of moonlight and squinted into the night. It was seemingly still the dead of night. A low, deep murmur of unconscious discontent floated to her ears as her husband realized she was no longer lying next to him. She smiled and headed back to crawl into his arms once more.

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For the first time in a year, both denizens of the well-appointed room slept soundly. A tiny hand, so strong for its size, grasped out in its sleep and sought the larger woman’s hand. This woke her with a pleasant startle, dark blue-brown eyes quickly focusing on the child lying next to her. When all was deemed well, the mother pulled two of her fingers together; these were offered to the small hand, who quickly clutched them. A true smile, the rarest of sights from this Lossoth, blossomed. The sleepy lilt that set the smile askew soon overtook her whole face – the two slept in contented silence once again.

Snapshots: Mother’s Day

While I don’t believe there is really a Mother’s Day in Middle Earth, many of us spent yesterday (or part of yesterday) celebrating it. I have had a horrible case of writer’s block for almost a month now, and this idea finally broke my dry spell. In honor of Mother’s Day, I’ve written snapshots of each of my characters, dealing with their mother or a mother-like figure in their life. 🙂

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The envelope quietly ripped open, dexterous fingers releasing the well-traveled contents inside. A small linen drawstring pouch fell into her lap, confusing Lori. The letter that shortly followed suit was quickly opened and scanned. Whoever wrote this for them had awfully small handwriting: she had to squint and scoot closer to the window. It was legible enough, though…and filled with simple conversation. Everything seemed normal, but an extra page at the end, a smaller one, caught her eye. She pulled it out and read it slowly.

Your mother’s birthday was last week, from when this letter was written. I have held on to this for years in the hopes that one day you would see it and ask for it. Since the ways have become dangerous, I do not wish for you to travel here now. Instead, it is enclosed it for you. Your mother gave this to me before she left, as a reminder of her. After much talk with my mother, we have decided it should pass to you.

Blue-green eyes widened immediately, looking to the pouch on her lap as if it burned. This was something her mother gave Uncle Thurwald. What was it? The letter was carefully laid on the table as a finger reached out to poke the pouch. It was soft, whatever it was. Very light. Could it have been paper? No, she was told her mother couldn’t write. What… what was it? Loriwen slowly opened the pouch, blindly sticking her fingers in to feel around. It felt like…hair? She pulled it out carefully. It was hair. A braided, old piece of golden hair…

Golden hair. Her mother had golden hair. Was this…? She turned it around in her hands a few times, eventually lifting it to compare to her own reddish locks. They both held that golden tint to them, her own tinged with her father’s carroty reddishness. It was. She held it up, staring at it for some time before finally blinking and realizing where she was. This had to be kept somewhere safe… aha! Her knife pouch. She’d get a new carving knife pouch, one that was a little bigger, and she’d keep it in there. There was nowhere else it could possibly belong. For now, she should keep it in the bag – when she wasn’t looking at it, of course. Like now. She inspected the hair, reverently spinning it in her hands.

This was a very odd gift! Very thoughtful, though. She had a similar idea for her wedding ring to Tarlanc, but sadly it wasn’t possible: she wanted to encase some of her hair in crystal or glass or something. No one knew how to do it. It was more than a little touching to realize her mother thought of the same kind of gift. Perhaps they would’ve had some things in common. Hmmm, maybe cutting some of her own hair wouldn’t be a bad idea. You know, in case something happened. It always was a possibility. She’d want her child to have a little piece of her.

Her thought process halted immediately and she stared wide-eyed at the wall. Wait…

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Another sniffle echoed throughout the woods, startling a small rabbit from its early feast of a fresh clover patch. The little creature hopped away, rather than toward, the noise. If only it knew how harmless the skinny, awkward teenage girl really was. She wiped another tear from her face and cleared her throat. She was having such a wonderful day, and then she managed to catch a glimpse of her mother walking through town. Naturally, as her luck would have it, she was spotted as well. She ran as fast as she could, easily losing the frantic woman in the bustle of the crowds. The woods were the first place she ran, hoping she wouldn’t be followed. She wasn’t, as far as she could tell.

Why did she have to see her mother? Couldn’t that have been her father? Someone she could hate? Ugh. This was horrible. Needed to clean her face up before she faced Luned again.

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“Olen pahoillani, tyttäreni. Rakasta hänen – mikään ei ole tärkeämpää. Ei edes maaomaisuus.”
I’m sorry, my daughter. Love her – nothing is more important. Not even the land.

The Lossoth words echoed as Hilja’s voice rang from the sun above. Tuija looked around, confused. A moment later, her mother floated down on a cloud to stand before her. Somehow she knew that she spoke in perfect Westron, but Hilja understood her anyway. “Mother, why are you here?”

“Voit surra ohi aiemmin, ja vieroksua sitä tulevan. Rakkaus hänen kuin rakastin sinua.”
You grieve over the past, and shun the future. Love her as I loved you.

Tuija reached toward her mother, but the elderly woman dissipated the moment her fingers brushed what would have been her peikko-fur tunic. Panic set in, and she awoke with a start. Was it a true dream-message, or the workings of her mind? Did it matter? She looked over to Lempi, nearly a year old, and brushed a lock of jet black hair away from the baby’s sleeping face. It was sound advice, regardless of from where it came. Kiitos, äiti.

((Yeah, okay. Lots of Finnish. It just didn’t work any other way; sorry! Last one is “thank you, mom.”))

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You truly did not have to send anything, but I know there is no method of dissuading you from sending a birthday gift if you wish to. I do miss you, Merileth. Thank you again. I keep you all in my thoughts at all times. Please give Mother a kiss and embrace for me.

Yours, Tegil

He sat back and sighed happily. Time to let the ink dry before he sent it off. What did Merileth send him? Knowing her, it was likely something absurd and far too pushy – possibly even something to do with Ceswyn. Then again, Mother probably would insist Merileth be patient. He was glad, truly glad, that they knew; but that naturally opened the door for pestering and teasing. Well, he would bear it proudly. Hopefully the gift would be something simple and meaningful.

Now to write to Mother. She would no doubt wish for a detailed description of the pendant…should he draw it? No, that would not do it justice. His words would have to suffice. He started the letter as he always did, before diving right into describing the gift. An easy, lopsided smile grew as he imagined her reaction to reading it.